After an investigation that went on for nearly 15 months, prosecutors announced today they plan to file charges against two people working on the movie set of Rust when a woman was shot and killed.
First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies hired special prosecutor Andrea Reeb to review the case and the two issued a statement this morning stating they plan to file criminal charges against actor and producer Alec Baldwin and set armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed by the end of the month.
“After a thorough review of the evidence and the laws of the state of New Mexico, I have determined that there is sufficient evidence to file criminal charges against Alec Baldwin and other members of the ‘Rust’ film crew,” Carmack-Altwies said in the written statement. “On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice.”
The movie’s assistant director, David Halls, signed a plea agreement for the charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon. The terms include a suspended sentence and six months of probation, but no copy of the plea agreement will be available until after it has been filed with the court.
All three people had a role in the Oct. 21, 2021 shooting that killed 42-year-old cinematographer Halyna Hutchins as she prepared to film a scene in a church at the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe County, the prosecutors said. Baldwin told police and others that he pointed an antique gun toward the camera Hutchins stood near at her request and it “went off.” Halls handed him the prop, which was loaded by Hannah Gutierrez-Reed. Instead of the industry-standard blank cartridges, some of the rounds on set that day were live ammunition, and a report by the FBI indicates Baldwin had to have pulled the trigger.
“If any one of these three people—Alec Baldwin, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed or David Halls—had done their job, Halyna Hutchins would be alive today. It’s that simple,” said Reeb in a written statement. Neither she nor Carmack-Altwies were available to answer questions about the case. “The evidence clearly shows a pattern of criminal disregard for safety on the ‘Rust’ film set. In New Mexico, there is no room for film sets that don’t take our state’s commitment to gun safety and public safety seriously.”
Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed each face a count of involuntary manslaughter in Hutchins’ death. Director Joel Souza was also wounded in the shooting, but the statement said no charges will be filed specific to his injury.
Baldwin’s attorney Luke Nikas of Quinn Emanuel issued a statement in response calling Carmack-Altwies decision to file charges against his client one that “distorts Halyna Hutchins’ tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice. Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun—or anywhere on the movie set. He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds. We will fight these charges, and we will win.”
Rust Movie Productions settled a wrongful death lawsuit with Hutchins’ husband Matthew Hutchins last fall. The Hutchins’ family also issued a statement through their attorney Brian Panish, a founding Partner of Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi LLP, after the announcement:
“We want to thank the Santa Fe Sheriff and the District Attorney for concluding their thorough investigation and determining that charges for involuntary manslaughter are warranted for the killing of Halyna Hutchins with conscious disregard for human life. Our independent investigation also supports that charges are warranted. It is a comfort to the family that, in New Mexico, no one is above the law. We support the charges, will fully cooperate with this prosecution, and fervently hope the justice system works to protect the public and hold accountable those who break the law.”
Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will be “charged in the alternative” with fourth-degree manslaughter, meaning that a jury would decide not simply if they were guilty, but whether the crime included underlying negligence. The charge carries a sentence of 18 months in prison and up to a $5,000 fine. Higher penalties could also be applied because a firearm was involved.
The initial investigation into the shooting by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s office went just a few days beyond the one-year anniversary of the shooting.
The time elapsed included sending the Colt-.45 used in the shooting and ammunition from a prop cart to the FBI and a search warrant on a business in Albuquerque alleged to have provided the ammo. It also had investigators working with the sheriff’s office in Suffolk County, New York—where Baldwin has a home—to obtain and search Baldwin’s cell phone.
An administrative complaint against Rust Productions by the state environment department’s Occupational Health and Safety Review Commission and a fine of nearly $137,000—which the movie company has appealed—remains pending, with a hearing scheduled for April 2023.
Other civil cases also remain, including a lawsuit Gutierrez-Reed filed against the Seth Kenney and his firm, PDQ Arm & Prop, the Albuquerque business; and a lawsuit Baldwin filed against Guiterrez-Reed and others.
In legal filings by Baldwin, he claims that armorer Gutierrez-Reed told him to cock the revolver. Attorneys for Gutierrez-Reed have pushed back, though, saying she was never called into the church where the scene was taking place and that Baldwin knew he wasn’t supposed to point a firearm at crew members.
Jason Bowles and Todd J. Bullion, who represents Gutierrez-Reed, responded to the charges in a statement noting that “Hannah is, and has always been, very emotional and sad about this tragic accident. But she did not commit involuntary manslaughter. These charges are the result of a very flawed investigation, and an inaccurate understanding of the full facts. We intend to bring the full truth to light and believe Hannah will be exonerated of wrongdoing by a jury.”
After charges are filed with the First Judicial District Court, the two will each be issued a summons to appear, followed by a preliminary hearing for a judge to determine whether probable cause exists to take the case to trial.
“There is a very clear process for pursuing justice in this case,” Carmack-Altwies said. “We are committed to upholding the integrity of that process to ensure equal justice under the law.”
Senior Correspondent Julia Goldberg contributed to this report.